The #1 travel tip for every destination

Hi friends,

How was everyone’s weekend?

Mine was filled with a lot of relaxing around the house and watching movies. It was kind of glorious! Remember how a couple of week’s ago, I said that work was slowing down for me? Well, sadly, that has yet to be the case- so relaxing weekends are still very much appreciated.

Today, I thought I’d share my #1 travel tip. Which is….

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Forget all the travel tips and advice, and instead plan the trip that’s right for you!

Why do I say this?

Well, recently, I’ve been researching for my upcoming trips, and looking at pinterest a lot for travel tips (pinterest is a great source to find travel tips if you do want them- they often link you directly to blogs, which give you real people’s experiences on their holidays rather than Travel Advisor, which can sometimes just feel like it’s trying to sell you something). And I started noticing a trend in the captions for what I was looking at. All titles were a variation of:

“7 Things You HAVE to do in…”

“20 Places You Have to Visit Before You Die”

“10 Places to eat at when visiting…”

It can start to feel overwhelming! And the worst is when you come across one for a holiday that you’ve already been on! I started thinking to myself, “Oh no- that would’ve been so cool to see. And now I’ve missed it!”

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But, then I remembered, this is just what other people have seen and loved. It doesn’t mean that I need to orchestrate the exact same holiday!

I remember being in Barcelona with a friend of mine (2 years ago already- how did that happen?!). Someone saw I was there and sent me a really long list of places to visit while there. And I didn’t see it until too late in the trip to go to any of the places they had suggested. And I felt really bummed that I had missed out! But when I think back to that trip, maybe one of my favourite moments was sitting in the sun, at the Park Guell, listening to a man playing Spanish Guitar, eating some mango, and chatting with my friend.

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Did I truly miss out on seeing the hot spots? Well- maybe. But in the end, I had the best trip for me. And that’s all that matters in the end.

I like to wander around a city, finding spots as I go, and generally relaxing with the local cuisine beverage (sangria, wine, beer- I’m happy with any of them). So a perfect trip for me is to incorporate that in. Maybe someone else loves museums, so their perfect trip will be going to every museum in the city!

Sure, it’s nice to see the main spots. A trip to Paris might not feel complete with getting up close and personal with the Eiffel Tower. But beyond that, I say forget the travel advice and do what’s right for you. Don’t spend your trip trying to eat the best pizza in Italy (which apparently I missed in Naples), or seeing the best view of the city (missed that one in Vienna), or even the #1 tourist site of the city (missed that in Edinburgh due to the rain). Because no matter what, you’re going to have fond memories of the holiday because you’ll have experienced it in a slightly different way than everyone else.

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What would be your number 1 travel tip?

Things I’ve learnt in 30 years

Hi friends,

Happy Sunday! What’s everyone up to this weekend?

I have officially changed decades! I turned 30 on Thursday! It was an amazing birthday- including a surprise party the day afterwards that completely took me by surprise.

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For my actual birthday, I took the day off and spent the day doing things I enjoy. I watched some “Sex and the City”, enjoyed the nice weather, and reflected all the things I think I’ve learnt in the past 30 years.

So for today’s post, I’ve put together a list of a few things I’ve learnt in the past 30 years:

  • Few good friends are better than tons of acquaintances– In high school, I so badly wanted to be popular, and for everyone to like me. In Grade 12, I started to be invited to the popular kids parties, and I was so excited. However, after graduation, I never spoke to any of them again. When I was in University, I made new friends, which included making 3 great friends. Our lives have gone different ways since then, including one friend moving to Australia, and me moving to the UK. There has been marriage, kids, break-ups and career changes over the past 12 years. Yet, through it all, we’ve stayed friends. I know that I could call any of them up tomorrow, and they would be there for me. I would rather spend time with any one of them, then be the most popular person at the party.
  • Not everyone will like you, and there’s nothing you can do about it– Last week, I posted a photo on instagram, commenting that I was “Contemplating the end of my 20’s with the best view”. About an hour later, I saw a facebook status from a girl I used to work with, stating “I’m sorry- but who cries about turning 30”. Now, perhaps it wasn’t about me, but the timing seemed just a bit too perfect. I started writing about 3 different responses to this- how I wasn’t crying, how dare she judge, etc. But then I thought about it, and I realised that by responding to that message, I would achieve nothing. She had judged my post in her own way, and there was nothing I could do about it. Letting it go is something I wouldn’t have been capable of doing even a couple of years ago, but was very freeing to do now.
  • Life can be hard, and there will be struggles, but you’ll be a better person for them- Moving to the UK was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Moving and then going through a break-up was very isolating, and I struggled to get through it. However, I did get through it. And I came out of it with a stronger sense of who I am, and what I am capable of. I never would’ve gained that knowledge had I not first gone through those struggles.
  • Let it Go- Frozen musical aside, this is so important. Whether it’s past mistakes, guilt, bad habits- let it go. I try and remember that I can always change what I don’t like going forward, but I can’t change my past. I remember that I did my best in the past, and stop beating myself up over past mistakes.
  • Getting older is not a bad thing– I think our society is particularly bad for making us feel like if you’re not young, then life is over. However, if a magical fairy came up to me tomorrow and offered to let me go back to being 20- I honestly don’t think I would. I’m very happy with how I’ve spent my twenties, and have had great opportunities. And while I loved living my twenties, I’m ready for the future and what my 30’s will bring.
  • No one is responsible for my happiness but me- It always bugs me when couples describe each other as making each other happy. I think that puts a lot of pressure on the other person. I think we’re all responsible for our own happiness. I try and put aside time to do things that make me happy. Then, Assen, my friends and family, all just build on the happiness that I’ve already created. This allows me to be selfish with how I spend my own time (sometimes being guilty of painting my nails rather than cleaning the bathroom), and it takes the burden off of me trying to create happiness for others as well!
  • I don’t have to be perfect– This one was hard for me. But thankfully, this one is finally starting to sink in. I can be grumpy, bitchy, happy, or anything else. I make mistakes, and sometimes- I don’t learn from them and have to make them again. Sometimes I don’t make the bed, or clean my house, or I forget to return a text for far too long. And that’s ok. I do my best, and that’s all I expect from me.
  • Possessions are replaceable- I love to have nice things- a nice house, clothing, decorations. And when I lived in Canada, I had all those nice, modern things. But when I moved to the UK, I left it all behind. Originally, I was going back to Canada in 18 months, and thought I’d come back for all the nice things I had accumulated. After a change of plans, I’ve obviously stayed in the UK- and I have no idea what happened to most of the things. Now I spend my money on travels and experiences- and although sometimes I’m tempted to buy nice things, I know that I’m much happier with a trip somewhere new than a pretty dress. My possessions don’t fulfill me, so I worry less about buying the best items.
  • Health is #1 importance- I think we’re all guilty of taking our health for granted. It’s not until something goes wrong, that you appreciate how you normally feel on a day to day basis. I try and take good care of myself- sleep enough, eat well, and exercise. I’ve recently started walking to work (it’s about a 5 km walk each way), and usually during my walk I’ll end up thinking of my Grandma. She’s 89, and so frail that she can barely get out of bed, never mind go for a walk outside. Thinking of her makes me feel so grateful for my health and all the things that my body allows me to do!

How about everyone else? What have I missed that you’ve learnt in your years? I’d love to hear everyone’s wisdom- whether you’re 5 or 95:)

Weekend away on the Amalfi Coast

Hello friends!

Sorry again for the long absence! Especially for those who commented- thank you so much for commenting and I’m so sorry it took me almost 2 full weeks to respond! Work should be slowing down for me from now on, so expect to see more of me on this space:)

I just got back from a weekend away to the Amalfi Coast and it was absolutely breathtaking! It was so, so pretty!

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The Amalfi Coast is a 50-km stretch of coast in Italy, along the southern peninsula. If you havent been, then I highly recommend you book your tickets ASAP! It was so lovely!

Assen and I flew into Naples, as it’s the closest airport, and decided we would rent a car. From Naples to Amalfi Coast is just over an hour if you take the quickest way, or an hour and a half if you decide you want to drive along the coast. My hat goes off to Assen for driving, because the roads are absolutely terrifying! They wind up and down the mountain, are extremely narrow, and Italian drivers will pass on a corner, and speed around a corner in the middle of the road. I had a firm grip on my passenger door handle for most of the drive (affectionately referred to as my “Holy Sh*T handle”).

Upon arriving, we first drove the 30 minutes (approx) to the historical site of Pompeii. I figured while so close, we couldn’t pass it up, and it was great to see. I read many reviews before going of people saying they had spent an entire day there- however Assen and I were happy after just over an hour of wandering around.

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For those who weren’t paying attention during history class (guilty!), Pompeii was an ancient Rome town. In 79 AD, the nearby volcano, Mount Vesuvius erupted, killing everyone in the town (an estimated 11,000 people), and burying the town under 5-6 m of volcanic ash. By doing so, it created one of the most well preserved Roman towns, once it was discovered again in 1599.

They have added beautiful, yet heart-breaking statues throughout as you walk through, such as the above picture. I found they made me really think about what it would be like to have been in the city, experiencing the eruption and the panic that it would’ve caused. Assen and I had several conversations about what we would do- would we try and run away? Hide? Help others? I don’t think anyone truly knows until they’re in that moment, but we found it interesting to ponder as we wandered through the streets.

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I think because we were there a bit before the tourist season, it was quite quiet, and we often had entire areas to ourselves. Assen had my camera so we decided to snap a few photos of me doing yoga at the goddess temple of Isis (as you do :P). It also made me think of this video- which is a good laugh if you haven’t seen it yet.

DSC06235 For anyone considering going, I highly recommend checking it out. You can literally walk around the entire town, and it’s so well kept that some of the walls even still have the paintings on them from the Roman era.

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After an hour of walking around (and then a break for some pizza), we decided to continue on to our hotel. I enjoyed the beautiful views, while Assen focused on the road!

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If you do decide to rent a car (which I highly recommend- I can’t imagine being on a bus on those roads!), I recommend getting the smallest car possible. Assen and I played around with getting a convertible, so as to enjoy the views more, but they were all mid-sized cars for that option. We ended up getting a Ford Fiesta (below) and it was perfect for those roads- the smaller the better!

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The great thing about these roads is that they have view points quite regularly. I had to stop myself point at things out the window and telling Assen to look at them (this is not a place to distract the driver!)- but instead we pulled over often to enjoy the view.

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When we got to our hotel, we immediately went out to the balcony that our room had and enjoyed the view. It was absolutely stunning! I also can’t say enough good things about our hotel- the views were beautiful, we had a balcony with a mini-bed on it, which we enjoyed laying on and enjoying our view. Also, on the last day, we left before breakfast was being served and they brought us coffees, juice, and an assortment of breakfast food (at 5:45 am!). We stayed at Hotel Albergo La Conca Azzurra, and would definitely stay there again.  It was more expensive than the usual places we stay at, but compared to a lot of places we looked at, was a lot more reasonable!

The below two pictures is the view we had from our balcony, one from the right and the next from the left.

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That night we ate at the hotel restaurant (you could have a three course meal for 25 Euro) and then immediately went to bed (we had gone to bed at 1 am the night before and were up at 3 for our flight, so we were both extremely tired)!

The next morning was raining when we woke up. We had a leisurely breakfast, and then sat out in our balcony (it was covered so we stayed dry) under a blanket. Assen napped and I read my book for a couple of hours. Thankfully, by 12, the clouds went away and the sun came out, so we began exploring!

We decided that for Day 1 we would drive one way, and the next day we would drive the other- therefore only having 25 km driving each day.

We started East, which had one of our first stops at Amalfi. Since we knew we wanted more time there, we decided to continue driving, and then explore Amalfi on our way back.

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One thing that I could not get over where the amounts of lemons! Lemon and orange trees where everywhere! The lemons were often being sold and were absolutely gigantic compared to what you normally buy at the grocery store. However, a lot of things that are made with the lemons (the desserts and alcohol) utilise the rind- so if you’re looking for the “meat” of the lemon, then you would be disappointed, as the actual meat part is no bigger than an average lemon, but the rind is just incredibly thick (we saw one that was cut in half and I felt cheated with how small the inside was!)

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The below are just a small sampling of the many, many pictures I snapped during our drives that day.

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We stopped at Maiori along the way (one of the many towns down the road) and had lunch and then we walked around the beach for a bit.

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We headed back after awhile, enjoying a few stops along the way for pictures and just to stare at the amazing scenery,

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We arrived at Amalfi mid-afternoon. Just about the time that we decided that a gelato was in order. Many people were enjoying the sun on the steps of the church, so we decided to join them. One tip I have is don’t buy gelato from the square! We had bought gelato the day before and for both of us, was 4 Euro. That day, in the square, our two gelatoes was 12 Euro! It was still delicious but heavily over-priced!

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I snapped a picture while sitting on the steps, as the square just felt so Italian to me. There were tables everywhere, the old cracked facade of older buildings in the distance, scooters driving through, and people just taking it easy and relaxing. Italy is one of my favourite places in Europe (if not the favourite) so I just tried to soak up the experience as much as I could.

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We next headed up to the town Ravello, which is off the water so perhaps not as well known. However, it was absolutely beautiful. The clouds were starting to roll back in as we were parking our car, so while Assen parked, I snapped the below pictures of the cloud creeping over the mountain.

DSC06320 Ravello has a music festival every year, and I wish we would’ve been there to see it as it looks amazing! It doesn’t start until June/July but appears to go on for most of the summer.

Instead, we looked at the amazing painted ceramics (what Ravello is known for), as well as the stunning views. Once I saw the below scenery, I basically dragged Assen into the closest restaurant so we could continue to stare while we ate! (Basically all we did on this holiday was eat and eat some more!)

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Once the sun set, there was a fireworks show (which I didn’t even think to grab a picture of while I watched), and then it was just silence; it felt so peaceful. Assen and I had another 3 course meal (an amazing octupus salad, and I had a lemon cream sauce ricotta, and then a lemon dessert…I was a bit lemon obsessed) and just chatted away. I honestly can’t remember a meal I’ve enjoyed more in a long time, both from the company as well as the food, and is definitely a highlight of the trip.

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We headed to bed afterwards on that night, and the next day again had a lazy morning. Assen and I are not morning people, so often when we go on holidays, we relax most of the morning, and then site see later in the day.

The clouds were threatening in again by about 11, so we decided if we were going to see anything, we had to leave our hotel ASAP. The next day we drove the opposite way, instead exploring Sorrento, which is a more touristy, bigger area to see.

We wandered around the marina for hours. Often in Italy, on the side of the streets, there is garbage everywhere. However, the water was so clean and clear- you could see every rock!

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I honestly don’t know what we did in Sorrento because it seemed like we had just arrived, ate lunch (delicious fresh mussels- I went seafood crazy while there), wandered around for a bit, and suddenly it was 7 pm! The time just flew by.

We knew we needed to be up early the next day for our flight, so we headed back to our hotel to relax again on the balcony and just enjoy the view. The hotel restaurant had a daily changing menu, so it didn’t feel overly repetitive to eat there twice in three days (I’m usually the person who insists we eat somewhere different every time so that I can experience as many new things as possible).

We were up at 5:30 the next day to catch our flight, however, as I said earlier, the hotel brought us some breakfast food (as well as gave us a parting gift of some pasta and olive oil that they make in-house!) so we enjoyed our final breakfast on our balcony, as the sun was coming up.

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It was honestly one of the most relaxing holidays I have had in a really long time. I was sad to pack my things and leave- not because I had more things I wanted to do and see, but just because it was just such a beautiful place. I don’t often say this- but this is a place I could see myself visiting again. Perhaps in the heat of the summer for some relaxing beach time!

As anyone else ever been? I’d love to hear if you enjoyed it as much as I did! Anyone else had any recent travels?

Planned travels for 2016

Hi guys,

Sorry for the long absence! Work kicked up for me a bit, so much of my “free time” has been working away, with a few breaks of Netflix on the couch.

Last time I blogged, I mentioned that I’m currently starting to think about my upcoming travels. So far I have booked a couple of trips, but I’m still finalising others. However, this is what I’m currently thinking (please note, none of the below photos are mine and are all sourced from Google images):

First weekend of May- this one has been booked for awhile and I’m super excited! I’m heading to Amalfi Coast in Italy. Assen and I are flying into Naples, stopping for some pizza (Naples is where pizza comes from), heading to Pompeii for the day, and then heading to our hotel on the Amalfi Coast for the weekend. It’s the weekend before my birthday so it is the official way I am entering my 30’s!

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Last week of May/first week of June- heading home for a trip to Canada! My friend and I are spending a week in Montreal and Quebec City- which will be the farthest East I’ve ever been in Canada. It’s supposed to be beautiful, so I’m really excited to see it. Seems like you never explore your own backyard, so this is a trip I’ve been putting off for years. The second week I’m visiting family, with 4 days with my dad in Central Canada, and 4 days with my mom in Western Canada.

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July- heading for a week in Bulgaria, which will hopefully also include 1/2 a week in Turkey. Some may remember that last year I was supposed to go to Turkey, but ended up with visa issues since my passport was about to expire. This time I’m hoping for a few days at the sea side in Bulgaria, and a few days exploring Istanbul.

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August- I currently don’t have anything planned for this month, but there is a long weekend so I’m thinking of heading on a solo trip. I’m debating between Ireland and Sweden- two very different locations, I know. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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September- my mom and I are trying to plan a trip for a week or two in September. We’re currently talking going to Paris, and then exploring the countryside of France- either Bordeaux region, or Normandy. Again, any advice would be amazing, as we’re still debating where best to go.

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October- Assen and I have booked the first week of October off. I’m currently trying to convince him for a week long trip to Dubai. I’ve recently known a few people who have gone, and it just seems so different, and such an experience. He’s not convinced yet, so we’ll see if we end up on a beach somewhere for this trip (our alternative plan for this week is heading to Canary Islands and spending a week sitting on the beach with a cocktail).

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If anyone has been to any of the areas, and has suggestions for what I should see, or where best to go- I would love the tips and advice!

How about everyone else? What are your upcoming travel plans?

Lately

Hi friends,

How’s everyone enjoying their short week? I keep on forgetting that Friday is a day off- and was on a call with someone yesterday and commented that we could meet on Friday. Surprisingly, she was not a fan of this plan😛

So today I’m off for a quick work trip to Hamburg, Germany.

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Now, I’ve never been before so when my travel companion (a work colleague) decided that he was taking a later flight, and would be arriving at 10 pm, I decided instead that I would be flying at a different time. So I get to enjoy a 3 pm flight, and will be landing in Hamburg for 5:45. It won’t give me much time but at least I’ll have a chance to see something. I leave Wednesday immediately after my second meeting of the day, so tonight will be my only chance for some site seeing.

If anyone’s been, I’d love to hear some tips of what’s good to see!

Besides that, Assen’s heading to Bulgaria on Saturday, for a week to spend some time with his family.

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Assen’s family from our last trip to Bulgaria.

While he’s away, I plan on watching girly movies, eating vegetarian food (Assen is a big meat eater, so he’s never keen for a fully vegetarian meal unless I can sneak it by him), and some YOGA:) I realise my website name is “Yogi in Action”, yet it seems like it’s been a long time since I spoke about yoga at all! I promise- I have a full post coming up all about yoga for anyone who is desperately waiting for some mention of it:)

I’m looking into a 4 day trip away to Spain from 1-4 April, with a 2 hour yoga class each morning, followed by a relaxing day of very little. I haven’t fully confirmed it yet, so it may fall through, but I think it’s exactly what I need after being a busy bee for the past 3 months (I haven’t even left the country since New Years!)

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That will be my view if I can go!

I’m in the process of confirming the rest of my travel for the year. On Sunday I did the first step- which is budgeting all of the trips I want to take. It’s times like that, that I know I’m a nerd! I spent about an hour on Sunday, looking at my various “flexible” costs to make sure I’m still meeting my savings goal for the year, but can also travel to all the places that I want. I got to the point where I can make it all work (if anyone is interested in more detail, let me know- personal finances is something that is very near and dear to my heart so I’m always happy to discuss) so now I just need to confirm dates with people, and another good year of travels will be off!

How about everyone else? What are you up to for Easter?

 

The Lonely Traveller

Hi friends,

How’s everyone’s week starting off? Anyone excited for St. Patty’s day on Thursday? In Canada, I used to celebrate this day every year, wear some green clothing, drink a couple of green beers- the whole 9 yards. It seems as though the UK doesn’t really get into the celebrations as much (or maybe just I’m getting older so don’t hang out with those who do celebrate)  but for the past few years, I haven’t done anything to celebrate.

So today, I thought I’d talk about something that I’ve noticed for quite some time. I’m going to call it the Lonely Traveller (because it sounds super melodramatic and like the story of a novel I would definitely read).

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When I was back in Canada, visiting my family in August, I was sat at the dinner table with my parents, grandma, aunt, and sister. I hadn’t seen some of my family in a couple of years, and I was excited to tell them about the travels I had been on, and how living in a different country was going. However, before I knew it, the meal was over, and no one had asked a single question about it, and instead we had spent most of the meal discussing Caitlyn Jenner, and the price of fruits and vegetables (2 separate topics of course).

This coincided with something that I have subtly known for quite some time but never wanted to admit. And it’s this: No one cares about my travels. That sounds super depressing, but honestly, I don’t think anyone really cares about anyone else’s travels.

Now I love talking about my travels (obviously- I have an entire blog devoted to it!). It’s a huge part of my life and something I’m immensely interested in. And sometimes it can feel almost like a personal insult when people don’t want to discuss travels with me- as it feels like they don’t care about me personally.

However, I get it. We all want to talk about things that we can identify with. People love talking about weddings, because we’ve all at least attended a wedding and can contribute to the conversation. Or about buying a house, as most adults (or at least a lot of adults I work with) have gone through that. But travels are something that are inherently very personal- some trips can feel absolutely life-changing, but they are only life-changing for the person who experienced the trip.

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I remember coming back from back-packing SE Asia after University, and being so excited to share all of my pictures. And sitting down with one friend and he started having a look through them. As he looked at the pictures, I filled him in with the details behind the pictures, and funny stories of that day, and I was getting more and more excited for each picture to show up so I could share more. But yet, as I got more and more excited, I could see his eyes glazing over more and more.

Finally, he admitted defeat, and told me that we would look at the rest of the pictures “later”. It’s been 6 years and “later” has never come.

And as sad as it makes me, I get it. I don’t like looking at thousands of picture’s either (unless they’re my own, of course). No matter how beautiful the image, or how amazing the story is, I would say that most people have an attention span for these things of about 20 minutes, and that’s if they truly love you. With strangers- probably closer to 5. After that, it’s not interesting for them anymore.

Which means that when your someone who loves traveling, and loves thinking about the next place to travel, and you want to talk about it, it can be lonely. Because unless you have someone who loves traveling like you do, they want to talk about anything else.

After I realised this, and felt sad about it for awhile, I realised there are also a couple of positives from this realisation.

First, I take a lot fewer pictures. I try and enjoy the moment I’m in, and truly experience it, rather than snapping a thousand pictures to look at later and have something to show someone. The pictures that I do take, are for me, and therefore have more sentimental value. Sure, I’ll snap a few on my phone for Instagram, but I would say about 90% of my photos are never shared with anyone but myself.

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Second, I cherish conversations with people that I meet traveling that much more. Fellow travellers are probably the only exception to those who want to talk travels- but that’s because they can compare their own stories with you.

Ultimately, traveling is about your own passion. While it can be sad that I can’t share it with others, I try and understand that it’s not anything personal, and remember that I travel for myself, not to have stories for the dinner table.

So friends and family- I get it. And I promise to not force you to look through all of my pictures, if you promise me that I don’t have to look through all of yours.

How about other travel-lovers out there? Do you ever feel lonely about not being able to talk all travel all the time?

Day in the life, plus some food

Hi friends,

How was everyone’s weekend? Sorry to be posting a day later than usual- I had a very lazy Sunday and couldnt’ motivate myself to do anything, including typing up a post for you guys:)

One of the things I was doing this weekend was looking at some old posts back on my blog, and remembering how I first got started. I like to read health and fitness blogs, so when I first started posting, my focus was mostly on the food I ate and the exercise that I was completing. However, I soon realised that I am not the person to have a food and health blog- yes I enjoy it, but I’m just as likely to be found on my couch with a glass of wine, binge watching Netflix; as I am to be found doing any kind of exercise. As my life has changed, so too has my blog, and now I think all I blog about is travels.

However, as a throw back to the past, I thought I would do a half way “Day in the Life of” along with my eats of the day from yesterday. Hopefully some will enjoy!

7:30 am- alarm goes off. I realise I’m working from home so don’t quite have to get out of bed. I snooze my alarm and fall back asleep.

8 am- my alarm is again going off, and this time it’s actually time to get out of bed! I roll out of bed, have a quick shower, make myself a vanilla latte and have an orange juice and am in front of my computer by 8:30.

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9:30 am- I’m now all caught up on my emails, and realise I haven’t had anything to eat. I go downstairs and quickly put together a smoothie for myself (ingredients: Spinach, 1/2 of an avocado, mango, banana, protein powder, and water) as well as make myself a green tea. Within 15 minutes, I’m back upstairs and back to work.

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11:30- I’ve been reviewing some work for the past 2 hours and realise that I’m getting quite hungry, but it’s a bit early to stop for lunch. I also haven’t had any water yet today, so I grab myself a quick snack (love these bars- the ingredient list is always two or three ingredients) as well as a big glass of water.

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1:30- finally lunch time! At about 12:45, Assen had come upstairs to see if I wanted some lunch. Unfortunately we hadn’t done our grocery shopping yet for the week, so we didn’t have any ingredients at home. We agree to head over to the express grocery store we live by at 1 pm. With the ingredients we pick up, I made myself a chicken sandwich (with tomatoes, cucumber, spinach and cheese), a handful of salt and vinegar chips, and a tomato, lentil soup. I also make myself an Italian soda, with blueberry flavouring and soda water. I was going to watch an episode of Big Bang Theory while I ate, but I forgot I had a call at 2, and end up prepping for the call while trying to eat quickly.

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4 pm- I’ve been in calls pretty much non-stop since my 2 pm call. I got off my call at 4 pm and realise I’m starting to feel a bit hungry, so I make myself another tea (this one a flavoured black tea) and cut up an apple with some peanut butter. And for good measure, I have another handful of chips (I have a chips problem- if they’re in the house, I will eat them). I had some mindless reviewing to do, so I watched an episode of Big Bang Theory in the background while working. It takes me about 2 hours to watch 1 episode because I keep pausing it so I can focus on what I’m reading.

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I work until 7 pm, and finally call it a day. I really should’ve worked later, but, as previously mentioned, Assen and I hadn’t yet done our grocery shopping yet for the week. I head over to the grocery store, and Assen agrees to do a couple loads of laundry while I’m gone. By the time I come home, it’s just after 8 pm. I put away the groceries and start making some dinner, and have a glass of wine, with a few snacks of dried mango while I do so (and of course…a bit of Netlfix to keep me company).

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I’m not going for anything complicated tonight, so dinner is done in about 20 minutes. I baked the salmon with some seasoning, and had bought a frozen bag of mixed veggies, which I stir fried in a bit of coconut oil. Considering the amount of chips I’ve already eaten today (there were a few handfuls that I did not take pictures of), I decide to go carb-less for dinner.

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10 pm- I have a couple pieces of chocolate (Lindt caramel with sea salt flakes…mmmm- obsessed!) and start putting together this blog post. Once done, a warm bath and a cup of herbal tea is calling my name.

11:30- time for bed! I’m working from home again tomorrow, so I lay in bed, playing on my phone for longer than I should since I know it won’t be an early morning.

And that’s an easy day in the life of me:) I used to work a lot more, but this year have really been trying to draw more boundaries around my job. I really try and stop work around 7 pm most nights, and I”m trying to stop working on weekends. I don’t always make it (I worked for about 4 hours this Sunday), but it’s made a much better balance in my life than I had this time last year.

How about everyone else out there? What’s a typical day in the life of you?

Traveling: Save vs. Splurge

Hi all,

Happy Leap Day! Anyone doing anything exciting with the extra day of the year? Sadly I will be at work and then buying groceries, so I anticipate my extra day will be quite mundane!

If you’re taking the day off, or have some extra time, check out my new page: Traveling. I spent some time this weekend, putting together all of my past travel recaps into one place!

I was recently reading the blog, Fitnessista, and Gina had a post about Health and Fitness: splurge vs save (link here). After which, I started thinking about traveling, and where I prefer to splurge and spend the extra money, and where I prefer to save.

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My personal list:

Traveling: Save vs Splurge

Save: Hotel prices

I like to stay in clean, quiet hotels, but after that, I try and find a cheap option which is close to where I want to be. I find that besides sleeping at night, I don’t often spend much time at my hotel, therefore the extra’s that you get with pricey hotels (such as gyms, pools, fancy hotels, room service), I don’t use anyways! If I want to work out, I bring my iPad and my travel yoga mat, otherwise walking around as I explore is my main work out. This is one of the reasons I love AirBnB so much- you have a kitchen if you want to cook, and the prices are generally half of what hotels are.

Save and splurge: Flight prices

I like to try and find cheap flight options, however I’ve included this as a bit of a splurge because I also have certain factors I consider. If at all possible, I try and go for the direct option. Sometimes having multiple stops can make a flight much cheaper, but do you really want it to take 32 hours to fly from London to Munich?! Therefore, my conditions are:
1) Flight time under 4 hours? Try and find direct!
2) Flight time greater than 4 hours? Try and find one with only 1 lay-over.

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(That one was taken after Assen and I spent the night trying to sleep in the Toronto airport- hence the coffee the size of my head).

However, I save a lot with flying with cheap options (EasyJet, IcelandAir, RyanAir, etc.) which provide no extras (on IcelandAir, you fly for 8 hours and they give you free beverages and everything else you need to pay for- including food!).

Splurge– Guided tours

I love, LOVE, LOVE tours when I’m in a new place. A lot of cities have free tours, which you just tip the guide at the end. However, if I’m touring something specific- I love to have someone teaching me the details. I’ve now taken trips with Viator for a tour of the Vatican in Rome, a tour of the Sintra castle in Portugal, and the castles around Munich. I find their tours to not be crazy expensive, but the tour guides are always fantastic and the tour itself is well organised. Therefore, I don’t mind spending a bit more when I know the quality will be high.

Save– souvenirs

When on holiday, I often see paintings, clothing, tea mugs- and in the moment, my brain starts telling me “YOU NEED THAT!” However, once I get home, the “I❤ NY” t-shirt goes in the closet, never to see the light of day again, and the mug goes in the cupboard. A lot of those souvenirs are not things that you will actually want when you get home. I have gotten in the habit of getting a magnet everywhere I go- it costs me around 2-5 pounds each time, and I love looking at them on the fridge. Everything else, I leave behind at the destination.

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(Breaking my rule when buying ALL THE CHOCOLATE in Switzerland)

Splurge– food

This one is a bit of a mix for me. I’m all for having cheap food for most of the holiday, however, for a real authentic experience- I will always pay more for the real thing! I would much rather eat real gelato while in Italy, then buy the cheapest stuff I can find.

When my friend and I were in Spain, we fell into the tourist trap of “Five tapas for 10 Euros”. It sounded like such a good deal that we went into the restaurant- and had one of the most disappointing meals of our trip! It was much better when we paid a bit extra and got the authentic paella (and the sangria! mmmmm).

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Splurge– location

When I first moved to the UK, and starting planning trips, I noticed there was a lot of places to go to in Europe, which I had never heard of (which, if you know me, is not surprising as I’m not great with geography). Those places I hadn’t heard of where MUCH cheaper than flying to the places I wanted to visit.

While I’m sure that the places are nice (and maybe some would be even better than the places I’ve been)- I didn’t dream of traveling to a small city in Germany which I had never heard of. I wanted to see Paris, and Rome, and Munich. Walk through the ruins of Ancient Greece while in Athens, and swim in the water of the Algarve, in Portugal. Even though those places are more expensive to visit, I will have the memories of being in those places for the rest of my life. To see the sites I wanted to see have made it more than worthwhile!

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Spending New Years Eve at the base of the Eiffel Tower will forever make my inner 10-year old self squeal with joy!

So those are my personal splurge vs. save’s for traveling. I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks!

Let’s have a wine date

Hi friends,

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was filled with relaxing, coffee, and not too much work, so I can’t complain.

I always love when blogs have a “glass of wne” and chat about what’s happening in their life. I think it draws the curtain back a bit and helps show how different real life is compared to blog life- as there’s always a lot that happens day-to-day that isn’t shared on an online forum.

So, let’s have a glass of wine, and share what’s happening in our lives.

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If I was to go first, I would mention how frustrating getting my visa extended has been this year. I moved to the UK over two years ago, on a secondment from my office in Canada (I work at an international accounting firm). The agreement was I would be gone for 18 months, and then return to my firm for another 18 months with them. In exchange, they cover my moving costs both when I moved to the UK, and returning to Canada. However, 18 months into my secondment, I realised I wasn’t quite done in the UK and so I extended for another year. That year is now up, and I wanted to extend again. However, the Canadian firm has come back and told me they do not support this extension and want me to instead return back home. This has been going back and forth for almost two months now, and has changed tone several times- first with me looking into moving into a different department, then returning in June, followed by the offer to return in September. I’ve continued to say I want another year, and it’s now looking like in order to do so, I will have to quit my firm back home. Which is a scary concept, as that means I no longer have a job held for me when I return to Canada.

I’d also talk about how much of a struggle making this decision has been. On the one hand, I so badly want to be close to my family and my friends, and to feel like I can really settle in and be somewhere for a long time.

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Me and my mom- one of the people I miss the most:)

On the other hand, returning to Canada means a lot less international trips. You can’t go on a weekend get-away to Italy when you live in Canada! You can barely go on a weekend get-away to a different province, especially with the flight costs when flying within Canada. As everyone who reads this blog knows, I love traveling, and it would be a very dramatic change to move back to Canada and have that be a smaller part of my life.

On a lighter note, I would probably also tell you about how Assen and I went to a TRX class last weekend- and neither of us could move for about 4 days afterwards. I’ve never worked so hard in a class, and I have never been so sore afterwards. I was proud of myself for being able to make it through the hour workout, but I don’t see myself returning anytime soon- as the day afterwards I sneezed, and it hurt my abs so much that I wanted to cry!

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This is why I work out at home!

Finally, I’d also mention how my 30th birthday is only a few short months away, and everytime I think about it, I start thinking back over my 20’s and how much I’ve changed, and my life has changed in the past 10 years. I’ve also noticed how many jokes tv shows make about how women are over-the-hill or no longer attractive once their 20’s are over! While part of me feels a little sad that I will never be a young, hip, everything is brand new and exciting 18 year old again, I’ve really started to feel settled into who I am in the past couple of years, and that to me feels more comfortable and a better place to be in my live. When I was 18 (or even 20), I so badly wanted to be accepted by everyone, and I was so afraid of missing out on something- the best party, the best friends, etc. Now that I’m just about 30, I feel perfectly happy to stay in, by-myself, with a glass of wine and a movie. I have friends that I love and know every deep dark secret of mine, and a great boyfriend who does things like make a pillow fort for me on Christmas morning when I’m feeling sad since I’m not with family.

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So now it’s your turn! If we were having wine (or a beverage of your choice), what would you talk about?

3 steps for traveling with a partner who doesn’t like to travel

Hi friends,

Since I’m all caught up with my travels, I thought I’d switch it up some today, and instead talk about something that comes up a lot with my travels.

I love traveling. If I could, I would travel all the time. You can pretty much name any spot in the world, and I want to visit there!

Egypt? Yep

Brazil? Yep

Cuba? Yep

Korea? If I could do it safely- I’d go!

However, my boyfriend is not a big fan of traveling. He doesn’t mind it, but he would rather spend his money on a nice car, or save it to buy a big house. Therefore, it can make it really hard to try and find a middle ground that makes us both happy.

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As such, I thought today I’d take about what works for us so that I can travel, and Assen doesn’t feel like every cent he earns goes towards travel.

Step 1: Learn your travel style

If it were up to me, every long weekend, and holiday time, would be spent in a new place. And not just one place- if I have 8 days, I feel like I can see 2 new places, at least. The first time Assen and I ever went traveling together, we spent 4 days in Rome, and then 4 days in Paris- and we just about killed each other during the trip.

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Those smiles might look happy, but there were a lot of evil glares behind the scenes.

This is because Assen and I have different traveling styles. Assen’s happiest sitting on a beach, having a couple of drinks and relaxing. I’m happiest with an audio guide and exploring something new. I want to see everything, and can pack in a lot into one vacation (like when I went on a 2 week holiday to Portugal and Belgium and in 14 days was in 6 cities, and 7 hotels).

The other difference is that I love to go to a city with a rough idea of what I want to see (Rome- see the Vatican, Coliseum and Trevi fountain, eat pasta and gelato, drink wine) and then sort out the details once there. Assen is a planner and wants to have a plan in place (what time we’re leaving the hotel, where we’re going, how we’re getting there, etc.).

Once we knew each other’s travel styles, we both had to adapt to meet each other half-way. For us, that means that we won’t go to multiple places on one holiday, and we put a semi-plan in place. It’s not as detailed as Assen would like, and it’s more than I would put in place for myself. But this allows us both to be happy.

Our second trip together, was a 4 day trip to Prague. We planned in advance of what there was to see, and which day we would see the main sites. We took lots of time to relax, enjoying the beer and food- and we both had a great time.

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Step 2: Compromise

As I said earlier, I want to see everything, and could spend every free second traveling somewhere different. Since Assen doesn’t have that same passion for traveling, we’ve run into issues trying to plan our holidays. Especially when there’s a long weekend- as to me, that screams “WEEKEND GET-AWAY” but to him screams “Time to relax, sleep in late, play poker and maybe clean the house”.

So how do we sort that out?

For starters, I try and do some traveling without him. This year, I went to Belgium by myself, as well as Austria (Vienna) and Hungary (Budapest). I don’t mind traveling on my own, so this works well for us. I’ve also had friends and family come visit me, and that’s been a great way for me to travel more without Assen feeling like he always has to come.

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The other side of this, is I try and do less traveling. This means sometimes for long weekends, we do just stay in the UK and have a quiet weekend. Sometimes that means exploring somewhere within the UK (such as when we went to Baths last July) and sometimes that means actually just staying at home for 3 days, and doing nothing!

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Assen also does more traveling than he otherwise would. Since we’ve been together, we’ve gone to: Paris, Rome (aforementioned first trip), Prague, Bulgaria, New York, Germany, and Scotland. This is probably double the holidays he would’ve gone on if it wasn’t for me.

Step 3: Understanding

I think we all like to think that relationships other than our own are easy, and people get along all the time. But that’s just not true! (and if yours is, well then don’t tell me- cause I don’t wanna know)

As Assen and I have continued traveling, we’ve managed to find the right balance for us. He travels more than he’d like to, and I travel less than I’d like to. I know that he’s traveling more than he wants to, so I try and make sure I tell him that I’m grateful, and plan special things in our trip that he’d like or be interested in; like stopping for 1L beers in Munich

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He know that I’d like to be traveling, so when we’re not, he’ll try and plan a day-trip to London, or a day out exploring Cambridge to make it more interesting for me.

We’ll never agree 100% on how best to vacation, but we can now laugh at our first trip together, and have found a balance that keeps us both happy.

So those are my 3 steps for traveling with a boyfriend who doesn’t really like to travel. Anyone else out there in the same boat? What do you do? Or- if you’re the one who doesn’t like to travel, what’s your approach for balance?